6 Things to Know About Fair Housing Laws

By mousa

When it comes to finding ideal tenants for your rental property in Detroit, Michigan, proper screening is a must.

In most cases, you’ll get a lot of applications for tenancy

How can you go about choosing the best prospective tenants without breaking any Fair Housing Laws?

For starters, it would be best to learn everything you can about the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

This post is a great place to get that process going. It covers the basics of Fair Housing Laws and how you can protect yourself.

Keep on reading to find out more about this important real estate owner legislation.

6 Things You Should Know About the Fair Housing Laws in Detroit

Meaning and History

are Fair Housing Laws anyway?

These are laws put in place to ensure that
every American gets fair and equal treatment in matters relating to housing.

That means that no one should be discriminated
against because of their class when:

  • Applying
    for tenancy
  • Applying
    for a mortgage
  • Buying
    a piece of property

The Fair Housing Act was enacted back in
1968, just a week after Martin
Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

But the enactment came after a series of
attempts that started as early as the mid-1800s.


The most significant events that led to
the institution of these laws include the:

  • Civil
    Rights Movement of the early 1960s
  • Rumford
    Fair Housing Act of 1963
  • Civil
    Rights Act of 1964
  • All of them
    finally leading up to the Fair Housing Act of 1968

Since its enactment, the Act has been an
effective tool in the fight against discrimination in the housing industry.

The Goals of Fair Housing Laws

What makes these goals so important? Or
what do they do exactly?

Fair Housing Laws help to minimize (or
end) housing discrimination.

Basically, that means that they deter
landlords, property sellers, and mortgage lenders from being discriminatory.

In light of this, you might be wondering,
what actions are deemed discriminatory under the Fair Housing Laws?

Here are a few common examples of housing

  • Interfering
    with someone else’s Fair Housing Rights.
  • Showing
    bias against a protected class in an advert.
  • Posting
    discriminatory statements on property listings.
  • Lacking
    consistent requirements for a home purchase.
  • Denying
    mortgage applications from people who belong to a protected class.
  • Using
    unfair and unequal property appraisal methods.
  • Offering
    different classes of people different sets of terms and conditions on mortgage
  • Setting
    different lease agreement with members of different classes.
  • Denying
    a person housing based on their social class.
  • Lying
    about the availability of a housing unit and so on.

All of these
examples can be classified as discriminatory under the Fair Housing
. And the list above only covers a few of the many forms of
housing discrimination.

These are
things that delineate what you should and shouldn’t do when dealing with prospective
tenants, home buyers, and mortgage applicants.

Now, this
brings us to another important question; what is a protected class?

Protected Classes under the Fair Housing Act

A protected
class is a group of people who get discriminated against just because they
possess a few unique characters or features.

They are
different – in one way or the other – from a large percentage of the

The FHA has
seen a lot of changes and improvements over the years. At first, it started
with four protected classes.

over the years, a few additions to the list have been made.


Today, the
number of protected classes totals nine. They are:

  1. Race
  2. Religion
  3. Color
  4. National Origin
  5. Sex
  6. Disability
  7. Familial Status
  8. Sexual Orientation
  9. Gender Identity

This means that, as a landlord/property
seller/mortgage lender, you are not allowed to discriminate against people
based on any and all of these classes.

Enforcement of the Fair Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for enforcing these laws.

Discrimination reports often end up going
to a HUD office located close to the complainant, in this case, HUD’s Detroit

If there is no HUD office close enough to
the complainant, they can still file a discrimination lawsuit against you in a federal
district court.

HUD enforces Fair Housing Laws in
different ways.


Sometimes, they’ll just investigate
discrimination claims to see whether they have any merit. After they have all
the evidence they need, they decide on how to proceed.

Other times, they hire Fair Housing
Testers to pose as potential tenants, home buyers, or mortgage applicants.

Generally, they’ll approach you with one
goal in mind; to see whether your housing practices are in line with Fair
Housing Laws.

Easy Ways to Avoid Breaking
Fair Housing Laws

The easiest way to avoid discrimination
lawsuits is by:

  • Make sure you abide by Fair Housing Laws.
  • Not forgetting that your prospect may be an undercover HUD agent sent to test your practices.
  • Make sure you are polite, fair, and consistent with all your prospects.
  • Don’t make any exceptions unless you run out of options.
  • Using other qualities to weed out bad prospects such as criminal histories, bad tenant history, inability to pay rent, poor credit scores, lifestyles, and pets just to mention a few.


If you follow these guidelines, your
chances of getting sued for discrimination are greatly reduced.


There are a few exemptions when it comes
to Fair Housing Laws in Detroit, Michigan.

These laws don’t apply to:

  • Owner-occupied
    rentals with less than four units.
  • Single-family
    homes rented or sold without a broker.
  • Members-only
    private organizations and clubs.

conclusion, staying on the right side of the law is easier when you understand
the law.

That’s why,
for landlords in Detroit, MI like you, learning about the FHA is the key to
avoiding discrimination lawsuits and FHA penalties.

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